Thursday, July 1, 2010
BlueVoice Busts Illegal Whale Commerce in Greenland
Greenland Blog #3
BlueVoice Uncovers Unsanctioned Commercial Whaling in Greenland
by Hardy Jones
The word that the IWC had granted Greenland a quota to hunt nine humpback whales in each of the years 2010 – 2012 reached me in Iceland as I traveled to Nuuk, capital of Greenland.
The word that twenty-seven of these curious, intelligent, infinitely graceful creatures will be killed after years of protection is heart wrenching. Over the decades during which the approach of a boat did not mean a painful death, humpbacks have become friendly, approaching boats and even divers in the water.
Now that bond of trust will be broken. That is sad in itself but it may also impact the whale watching business that supports communities all along the east coast.
The IWC granted Greenland the humpback quota for whaling that would provide meat for ABORIGINAL USE ONLY. But in Nuuk I’ve discovered the meat in a super market, in the form of sushi at a Thai restaurant and as steak in a greasy spoon burger and pizza joint. Tonight I will head out to find whether there are other establishments purveying whale. Commercial sale of whale meat is not allowed under the IWC quota.
It is sad that humpbacks have just reappeared off Greenland after sixty years only to be slaughtered.
I am in Greenland to attend the Inuit Circumpolar Council. I want to learn what information is available on levels of heavy metals and organic pollutants in marine mammals killed for food and in the people who eat it what health problems have been identified and how the Inuit intend to deal with that information.
It’s an established fact that women who eat large quantities of dolphin, whale and seal meat give birth to a high ratio of girl babies over boys. In some villages the ratio is two to one. In one village no boys have been born in some time.
I discussed this issue with William L. Iggiagruk Hensley (Willy) an Inupiaq who has too many major league political and business credentials to list. He was a member of the Clinton transition team, a leader in several Alaska native organizations and author of Fifty Miles From Tomorrow, a brilliant work.
I was astonished to learn that he had no knowledge of the fact that eating marine mammal meat was causing such a bizarre impact on Inuits. It is literally suppressing the production of male children not to mention immune systems and mental development.
Among the speakers at the conference is Per M. Bakken of the United Nations Environment Programme. He warned that a chemical catastrophe faces the people of the north from contamination in some of the food they take from the sea – marine mammals in particular. I asked him if he felt the Inuit ignored or were in denial about these facts and he agreed that they paid little attention to it.
What they are really ticked off about is the fact that trade in seal skins is prohibited by many nations.